8 Areas Retailers Must Focus on for 2019
Retail never stands still. Every year, environmental, economic, political, financial and technological changes create shifts in customers’ expectations of the industry.
A retailer’s strategy must keep up with these changes, and plans for 2019 will be no different. Giants such as Amazon grow exponentially, but other global organisations fall into history; size doesn’t guarantee success and 2019 can be the year for smaller retailers to carve a niche in the market that will last into the future.
If a strong plan for next year is just as important for local and regional retailers as it is for the multinationals, those organisations need to think in terms of global themes, but implement at their own scale. These 8 strategies could help to make 2019 a success for retailers that build them into their plans:
1. Your customers need you to be available anywhere, any time.
Shoppers have less time than ever, and when they identify a buying need, they want to source, compare and purchase there and then, wherever they may be.
2. Make delivery a priority service.
Customers don’t all want to expend the effort of shopping in store, they want convenience of a secure, speedy and transparent delivery. Next Day Delivery was the theme of 2018. Same day delivery is the target for 2019.
3. Increase your personalisation and build a rapport.
Shoppers are now so used to the level of personalisation and customisation provided by apps such as Netflix and Spotify, a new, higher baseline has been. Customers want the right offers and products shown to them up front and to be treated like an individual in store or online.
Give customers an optimised experience.
The buzzword of the last couple of years is still misinterpreted. Providing a great customer experience doesn’t have to mean spending millions on the best retail locations, or fully fledged bespoke ecommerce platforms. Sometimes simple incremental changes in a retailer’s operation can boost the experience and therefore sales.
Make it quick and easy.
50% of customers want shopping to be quicker, with almost 30% seeing it as a chore. The days of browsing in stores for anything but the most luxury items are gone, so make sure your in-store experience is hassle-free, and there is a clean, crisp online platform available on both desktop and mobile devices for customers to make their purchases. A good retailer will frequently put themselves in the place of the customer and think about how the journey can be improved.
What’s in it for the customer?
Simply signing customers on to a mailing list, or asking for information to support market analysis will not yield results in 2019. Customers have realised the value of their data and now want something in return. Whether it be exclusive offers, or a customised experience, give the customer a sense of still being in control of their data. A relationship is all about give and take, and a retailer’s relationship with the customer should be no different.
7. Go Green.
Deforestation, climate change and wasteful business practices are not going away. The concern over plastics in the sea highlighted in 2018 brought bad press for many organisations that failed to consider the environmental impact of their products and publicity. An environmental conscience is essential in 2019. Having paper as the only option for blanket-distributed catalogues will be frowned upon, whilst single use packaging should be an option rather than forced upon the customer.
8. Value is an emotion.
In a global market, “you get what you pay for” is now dead. Consumers consider not only product quality and price per unit as factors in their purchasing decisions. Each of the seven strategies above form a virtual checklist in the mind of the customer. A focus on value to the customer of not only the product, but the retailer themselves, will be a differentiator for organisations in 2019. An innovative, service based engagement that leads to a trust-based customer - vendor relationship increases value perception, and allows retailers to maintain margins despite cost pressures.
In summary, 2019 is going to be an exciting time for retailers. Customers want to support the organisations that directly benefit their communities but still expect world-class service. Having a clear strategy focussed on the value, experience and availability of your offer will attract customers.